Who will take power?at Eskom?

2014-06-22 15:01

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After the departure of CEO Brian Dames, the power utility is casting the net wide for a replacement. Moyagabo Maake takes a look at the likely candidates

In the past decade, former CEO Thulani Gcabashe was the only Eskom boss to have stayed in his job for more than five years.

His two successors, Jacob Maroga and Brian Dames, did not last that long –?Maroga was forced out just a year into the job and Dames quit in March for “personal reasons”, but rumour had it he was tired of continued interference from former public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba.

It is a challenging job: besides balancing political imperatives with commercial objectives, incumbents will have to contend with delays in the power utility’s ambitious build programme, which has already seen a supply shortage that has led to numerous power cuts.

One of the projects, Medupi in Lephalale, was expected to come on stream in December, but the date has now been postponed to April next year?–?four years behind schedule.

There is also the headache of having to deal with a militant trade union, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), which has not been shy to lodge disputes when it is unhappy with management decisions or when its wage demands are not met. In 2009, when the utility wanted to outsource certain functions, Numsa went to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration to apply for the right to go on a disruptive strike.

Earlier this month, it announced plans for an industry-wide strike from July 1 if its 15% wage increase demand at the sectoral bargaining council?– where talks hit a deadlock last month?–?was not met by that date.

Interviews for a new CEO began in the last weeks of April, according to Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi. Earlier this month, Tsotsi told Business Report the process was at an advanced stage.

In the interim, former board member Collin Matjila, who has dark clouds hanging over him relating to corporate governance, is steering the ship.

New Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown’s aides said last Wednesday she had not yet met any of the state-owned companies in her portfolio and would thus not be able to answer questions on who had made the short list for the post.

All questions were referred to departmental spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete. “What I can confirm is that a few names have been submitted to the minister and the minister is in the process of submitting those names to Cabinet,” he said.

Acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said Cabinet would meet next Wednesday. But she had not seen the agenda. Tshwete said he could not discuss the details of how the Eskom board had conducted its hiring process, but understood it was open to internal and external candidates.

But if Cabinet stays true to form, the new CEO is most likely to be an internal candidate. Dames, Maroga and Gcabashe were internal hirings and all came from the utility’s three line functions.

Dames headed the generation division before stepping up to the hot seat. Maroga headed the transmission division, while Gcabashe was a general manager and then one of the deputy CEOs of the distribution function.

Given this, the most likely candidates are:

Mongezi Ntsokolo

Eskom group executive of transmission

Previous post

Managing director of Eskom’s distribution division


.?Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering (heavy current), University of the Witwatersrand

.?Master of Business Administration, Stellenbosch University

.?Executive development programme, Harvard Business School

Ayanda Noah

Eskom group executive of distribution

Previous post

Divisional executive in Eskom’s distribution division


.?Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, University of Cape Town

.?Master of Business Administration

.?Executive Development Programme, University of the Witwatersrand

Silas Zimu

Heads up Suzlon Energy’s South African operations

Previous post

Managing director of Joburg power utility City Power. Various roles at Eskom


.?Bachelor of Engineering (honours) in electrical engineering, Brighton Polytechnic, UK

.?Master of Science in engineering management, Warwick University, UK

Thava Govender

Eskom group executive of generation

Previous post

Eskom divisional executive for power generation


.?Bachelor of Science in chemistry and biochemistry, University of Durban-Westville

.?Bachelor of Science honours in energy studies, Rand Afrikaans University (UJ)

.?Management Development Programme, Unisa

Ehud Matya

Director at Steinmüller Engineering Services

Previous post

Former managing director for power generation at Eskom


.?Bachelor of Science in mechanical/industrial engineering, University of the Witwatersrand

.?Graduate diploma in industrial engineering, University of the Witwatersrand

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